Monday, July 10, 2017

RW oligarchs get Vos's ear on DOT. The rest of us? Nope!

Last week, Assembly Speaker Robbin’ Vos and other Assembly GOP leadership asked several business groups and right-wing organizations for their ideas on how to close the state’s continuing $1 billion budget deficit in transportation. Vos gave the groups until today to get back to him, and a few of them actually took Robbin’ up on the offer.

Among the respondents were the Republican megadonors at Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, who sent their info back on Friday. I know this will shock you, but WMC preferred method of “paying for” projects comes through cutting wages of construction workers, preempting local environmental regulations, and privatizing DOT engineering services (despite proof that this is more expensive than keeping engineering in-house).

But the few WMC revenue measures they asked for naturally chose for methods that make the typical motorist pay over corporations and trucking companies.
Gas tax and fee increase: The WMC Board of Directors voted to approve a legislative agenda earlier this year that included a provision to support a gas tax increase of up to five cents per gallon, and a registration fee increase on automobiles and light trucks of up to $25 per vehicle.

Diverting the PECFA (the state’s petroleum cleanup fund) tax for roads: Utilize the two-cents per gallon currently being collected for the PECFA program to pay for transportation funding, while paying for the PECFA program obligations with another dedicated revenue source.

Transfer additional General Fund Revenue: Allocate additional General Fund revenue to the Transportation Fund either by increasing the current 0.25% transfer, or transferring a portion of the sales tax from motor vehicle sales and/or motor vehicle parts and accessories.
Does WMC come up with specifics on how to pay for those bigger transfers out of the PECFA and General Funds, or what extra taxes have to be raised to make up this difference? OF COURSE NOT. They either assume that extra money will fall out of the sky and make everything OK, or (more realistically) they favor additional cuts to education and local government aids, but don't want to admit it. Classy bunch.

WMC also seems to favor Governor Walker’s plan for a $341 million bailout from DC, and the extra borrowing that the state would take on from it, a ridiculous stance that makes Walker look like a foolish hypocrite, but well in line with WMC’s belief in having the taxpayers subisidize their business any chance they get.

But then WMC waffles and says the increased gas and registration taxes really don’t need to be looked into because Governor Walker and Senate GOPs won’t go for it, and after all, the GOP Assembly should concentrate on “controlling costs” by screwing workers and the state’s environment. Yes, these are the “business geniuses” drawing up our economic policy.

And Wal-Mart has also chimed in to say they join WMC in backing a 5-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase IF they could also get rid of the state’s minimum markup law. Getting rid of the minimum mark-up would clear the way for Wal-Mart to undercut other gas stations, and potentially drive them out of business (you know, the same way Wal-Mart has done to local retail all around America).

Quick sidenote to that Wal-Mart – the Lisa B. Nelson that wrote that reply as Wal-Mart’s head lobbyist in Wisconsin isn’t the same person as the ALEC CEO. The Wal-Mart lobbyist is merely a typical WisGOP hack that went through the revolving door for bigger bucks. But it is a pretty damn funny coincidence.

The bigger story in this whole “ask for ideas” stunt by Vos is that it tells you who he really listens to. Vos has never gone in front of the people to get their feedback for how to fund the DOT, and has certainly never asked Legislative Democrats for their thoughts (Vos told CLAN Radio 1130 2 weeks ago that “The Democrats are totally irrelevant”). But instead, it’s the thoughts of donors and other oligarchs that matter to Wee Wobbin’.

You wonder why this state keeps lagging the rest of the country when you have an ALEC-GOP crew that doesn’t give a crap about what the overwhelming amount of the state might be asking for? Particularly when it comes to solving the billion-dollar deficits that prior ALEC-GOP policies have left us with?

PS- Hey! I got a new Phil Hands cartoon to use for this topic in the future!

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